The Benefits of an Orthodox secondary school.

Why build an Orthodox Secondary School in the area?  What is the benefit? There are other schools available. What is the big deal?

This question arises not only in the United States, but other countries as well. Many parents and guardians see no problem with their children going to schools that have different religious teachings, or are completely secular. After all, the world in which we live is diverse. We all must learn to live together in harmony, right?

While that all may be true, the first question we must ask before any other is, What foundation do we want to lay beneath our children’s feet on which they will stand for the rest of eternity?  One that is of the One True Faith, that teaches repentance, confession and Love of all? Or one that is of this world made of sinking sand? A recent article on Pemptouisa dated 9 September 2017 provides a very clear picture of the benefits of Orthodox Christianity for our children.

“…the general climate and the promotion of degeneracy banishes the moral conscience. When children see what they see from an early age, their conscience is dulled. They cease to consider evil as evil or how evil it is. This is why, though it pains us to say so, we see that there has been an increase in criminality and especially in that associated with the taking of other people’s lives.”

The Majority of secondary schools in Kenya are sponsored by those of a Protestant, Roman Catholic or Muslim religion.  The Orthodox are a minority.

These groups use all possible means during the four (4) years of Secondary School to convert the student to their way of thinking because they believe that Orthodoxy is wrong.

One of the major ways to help children retain their faith after Secondary school is having an Orthodox school for them to attend. This is the importance of fulfilling the dream of establishing the Saint John Maximovitch Secondary School.

We can give to many worthy things in life.  As we endeavor to build up Orthodox Africa by establishing the St. John Maximovitch Secondary School in Kenya, we ask you to consider this worthy project with your support.  Please donate to Orthodox Africa by clicking here and mark your donation “St. John Maximovitch Secondary School.”

2017 – The Year in Review

 

The previous year was indeed a year of miracles, advances and pain – in fact this last year has been so full of blessings that one cannot even begin to articulate all that God has done for this mission through the hands of faithful donors such as yourself. Nevertheless, please accept this small review of the work that you have helped us perform. And, as always, please remember us in your prayers.

  • In February 2017, between the donors of Saint Irene’s Mission and Orthodox Africa, we were finally able to purchase a van for Saint Irene’s Orthodox Mission Center. It now enables Father Constantinos to provide safe transportation for the kids between church, school and other appointments.
  • In late April Father Silouan was blessed to speak to the faithful of Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church in Cumming, Georgia about the Mission of Orthodox Africa.
  • In May Father Silouan went on a whirlwind fundraising tour that saw him running up and down the East Coast of the United States presenting the work of Orthodox Africa in many parishes. The East Coast summer fundraising tour capped out with a joint presentation with His Grace Bishop Athanasius of Kisumu and Western Kenya at Saint John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington DC.
  • In June our Executive Director Father Silouan once again joined our brothers and sisters in Kenya and Uganda. While the many events that took place are too numerous to mention here, some of the highlights included the baptism of over 20 new Orthodox warriors and the presentation of Holy Relics to our missions including the relics of Saint Catherine of Sinai.
  • We were also able to raise enough money to pour concrete floors for the children of Saint Innocents Academy, thereby allowing them to concentrate on their studies without having to worry about jiggers and other earthbound insects biting and burrowing into their feet.
  • At the end of June Orthodox Africa had the pleasure of finally welcoming Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church on Bukasa Island, Uganda to our mission. Father Silouan spent ten (10) days with Father Christopher, his wife Matushka Maria, children and the faithful of this Parish community discussing with them the purpose of Orthodox Africa and setting up plans for how we can help them become self-sustaining.
  • In July Orthodox Africa was able to fund the purchase of one (1) acre of land for Saint Innocents Academy so that they can cultivate black tea. This purchase brings this mission much closer to becoming self-sustaining.
  • Father Silouan also did several presentations about the work of Orthodox Africa in Ukraine and Russia before finally returning to the United States in late August.
  • Finally, in December we were able to help fund a down payment on a very beautiful, new property for Saint Barnabas. This also brings them much closer to accomplishing the dream of self-sustainability.

In closing, I would like to present to you a very poignant article that Board Member, Andrea Hollander, wrote about the orphans, that together, we are helping. This article is very much worth reading again and meditating on how, together, we can better serve our brothers and sisters in Africa.

Together in Christ

It’s so cold! You hurry into your home, a plywood, barn-like structure, and sigh with gratitude that the wind is at least cut off even if you still have to wear your hat and coat. At least it is better than sleeping in the cold, garbage‑strewn streets of Kibera slums outside where some of the others have to find what shelter they can, wherever they can so that they do not freeze to death overnight. You might ruefully smile to yourself if you knew that many people do not know that Kenya gets so cold during the winter. Rumbling. Just your stomach.

You are a growing 9‑year‑old boy. There is no money for more food. They feed you what they can. They have so many kids to take care of, but you are glad you have more than you used to, at least. And good friends too. They live with you in the plywood room, sleeping in metal‑framed bunk beds. At least you are together.

“Together” is a word we do not take for granted in the Orthodox Church. In our theology, we recognize the concept of the old Russian saying that we are “Saved together, but damned alone.” Even the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—exist in community undivided! This is an icon and pattern of our own existence. We were never created to be alone, cut off from the community of others – none of us. Taking this concept in hand, Orthodox Africa has partnered with several nascent Orthodox missions near and in Nairobi, Kenya, to assist them in spreading the Gospel of Christ. As we are meant to be the hands and feet of Christ on Earth, we take this responsibility of “together” very seriously. Recently, our own Father Silouan (Brown), a monk in the ROCOR, left for the unknown and followed God’s command to spend a month in Kenya seeing how our Kenyan Orthodox brothers and sisters in these missions live day to day, what their greatest needs are, and how we at Orthodox Africa can be of the greatest service in helping them become self-sustaining groups. One of the greatest delights Father Silouan had not long after his arrival was attending the baptism of eleven people into the Orthodox Church! He was asked to be the godfather of six of the children, including Panteli, the infant son of one of the Kenyan priests!

They are singing a song as you walk around the baptismal font. You like to sing in church about Jesus. This is a song you did not know before: “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ! Alleluia!” You were told that this song is from the Bible: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29, Berean Study Bible).

No matter how far or near we are in distance physically, spiritually, we are all one in Christ. And we are all humans together. There are myriad opportunities to be a part of the community in our parishes, neighborhoods, and families. This is an opportunity to extend the concept of community to those who are geographically removed in utterly destitute circumstances. This can be through prayer,  or financial contributions when team missions are ready (more about that in the near future), sharing the information on your social media and telling your friends, family, and parishes about the work Orthodox Africa is doing in support of these missions. Please remember, we are all in it together!

With love and gratitude in Christ’s service,  The Team at Orthodox Africa +

In Christ,  Father Silouan (Brown) – Executive Director

Land!

Every child in the world has a dream, a secret wish – to have something special, maybe a pony or a race car. Perhaps a child dreams of going to see the ocean or the desert. Many children dream of having a permanent home where food is readily available on a daily basis, where they are dry and warm, where there is someone to kiss them goodnight as they tuck them into bed. Even adults have dreams – to be successful, to be free of pain or hurt, to have no debt or to give their child their secret wish. This week a dream came true for Father Methodios, the Director of Saint Barnabas Orphanage and Education Center.

He has long dreamed of a permanent home for the orphans of Saint Barnabas. A piece of property large enough to house the orphans, one with water and electricity, enough land so the children have room to run and play, a place to build more dormitories and classrooms to house and teach more children.

This week that dream came true. Because of the generosity of Orthodox Africa donors, Father Methodios put a down payment on one (1) acre of land with one-half acre also available immediately. It has everything he dreamed of; buildings that are included in the purchase (but are temporary). The condition is not bad in comparison with the current living conditions. Minor repairs are required. A major drainage trench needs to be dug. A borehole (well)

for water (cost: $20,000) will need to be drilled before moving the children to the property.

Please continue to donate to Orthodox Africa in support of Saint Barnabas Orphanage and School. Click here.   Let us help them to meet their monthly lease-to-purchase payment and get that water borehole done!

Holy Ground of Orthodox Africa

How difficult is it to be a missionary? Can you imagine how hard it is for one man, Father Christopher Walusimbi, to have labored for 34 years to build his Temple to the Annunciation? Alone, cold, hot, tired, hungry—often what we would consider a strict fast is what Orthodox Christians in Africa ordinarily would call a full meal.

How hard is it for a 70 year old priest to walk up a 300 foot hill with a 40 horsepower engine on his shoulder?

“I am tired,” he told me. “I am so grateful for your prayers.”

He is having major leaking problems with the dome of the Church and on it goes. “We need a lot to repair the Cupola!”

Recently, through the generosity of Orthodox Africa, Father Christopher received a new 40 horsepower engine. Because one of the passengers was transporting a smaller than regulation size fish, the soldiers took his engine for which he had to pay a substantial bribe and then stole his propellers. Father slept on the ground!!!

It might be hard for us to understand, but two props are worth about $200.00 which is double a yearly income for an impoverished fisherman.

Are you a builder? Could you turn a 20-foot steel container into a guest house?  Are you wealthy? Could you buy and ship a small portable house from China to Bukasa Island? This would allow Father’s parish to be pretty much self-sustaining.

At the very minimum, we can all pray; but surely being just weeks away from Holy Nativity, we might think of that Godly Priest sleeping on the ground, the Holy Ground of Orthodox Africa.

To support Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church in Uganda, Africa you can find donation information here .

“Enlarging the Land” Benefits All*

The benefits of owning land far outweigh the benefits of not.  Currently, St. Irene’s Orthodox Mission Center pays rent for the small portion of land they use.  The structures in which the children learn and live are constructed for temporary usage.  Water must be brought in.

It would allow the Mission Center to put a solid roof on each building rather than the current tin.  When it rains, the sound of it hitting the tin is quite loud.  That kind of atmosphere is not conducive to a good learning environment and is quite distracting.  Teachers must raise their voices to be heard, if they can be heard at all.  Children cannot think clearly for the pounding above their heads.  As Fr. Silouan said, “A solid roof would immensely improve the learning environment.”

Dormitories can be built for the children to live in and a residential area for guests are included in the plans.  A well can be dug to provide water!

Most importantly, it will bring about the sense of permanency, something these children do not have in their lives now.  With joint ownership between the Archdiocese and Orthodox Africa, the parish would remain intact should the priest be transferred to serve another parish.  This ensures the children a permanent home and education center until adulthood.

Donate to this worthy cause and may God multiply your gift.  Mark your donation “St. Irene Enlarging the Land.”

*This article first appeared on Orthodox Africa June 4, 2017

The Sun and the Rain

The Book of Proverbs chapter 22 says, “Rich and poor have this in common: the Lord is the Maker of them all.” The sun shines and rain pours equally on our heads. We breathe the same air. These blessings are freely given to us by god and we share them without really giving much thought to it. However, do we do the same with the things that we do not equally share, such as food, money, clothing, housing and other tangible things?

St. John Chrysostom says, “…if money were common and available to all, there would be no opportunity for generosity on the part of the rich and gratitude on the part of the poor.” One could suggest his thought is based solidly on St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians where he wrote, “Generosity inspires gratitude, and gratitude inspires generosity. God is generous to us and our generosity, as St. Paul tells us, gives proof of our gratitude towards God” (9:11).

Generosity is defined as “liberality in giving or willingness to give.” God created us in His Image, a very generous gift to each person. How have we expressed our gratitude? Have we given of ourselves and of the blessings He has bestowed on us?

Remember Saint Barnabas Orphanage and Education Center. Donate towards their long term goals here, or to their immediate needs on their website. Be generous and teach the virtue of gratitude to another.

Encouragement, Engagement, Outcome: St. John Maximovitch Secondary School

One of the long term goals of Orthodox Africa is to foster engagement in our missions, their children, families and staff so they are inspired and encouraged to get involved in the building up Our most Holy Orthodox Faith and develop a hope for a future beyond even Our own lifetimes.

To the end the priests of the Nairboi Board of Directors are not solely interested in seeing individual missions developed, but to build mission programs that will have a larger impact on the Diocese and the country. The goal for Orthodox Africa is to instruct the missions to become self-sustaining. How do we see this unfolding? By establishing the St. John Maximovitch Secondary School so they will begin to establish their self-sufficiency.

In his June 2, 2015 article Education in Kenya Nick Clark, Editor, of World Education News & Reviews said,

In 2008, the government of Kenya instituted a free secondary education for all programs. Between 2003 and 2012, the secondary gross enrollment ratio increased from 43 percent to 67 percent, as graduates from the new free primary program moved their way through the system.

Nonetheless, much progress in educational quality and access remains to be made in Kenya. In 2010, one million children were still out of school, and while this was almost half the number in 1999, it is still the ninth highest of any country in the world.

Orthodox primary schools for children from age 3 to 11 establishes a good foundation of learning for a child. The child learns to read, write and do arithmetic; as well as, learns self-discipline, how to work hard towards a goal and to manage their time. They are also given the opportunity to learn about the Orthodox Christian Faith, again, establishing a foundation on which they can stand as they encounter what the winds of life bring them. St. Barnabas Orphanage and Education Center and St. Irene Mission Center provides this foundational education.

As adolescents, children will encounter messages that are opposite of the Orthodox Faith, messages that seek to draw them away from the One True Church. Building up their most Holy Faith is very important. The nurturing of the St. John Maximovitch Secondary School will continue to solidify the foundation on which they stand and will give them a firm footing to resist that which will try to pull them away. This secondary school will give the children ages 12 to 18 from St. Barnabas, St. Irene and other children, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox from all over the Diocese and Kenya, more educational knowledge to further encourage them in life.

We can give to many worthy things in life.  As we endeavor to build up Orthodox Africa by establishing the St. John Maximovitch Secondary School in Kenya, we ask you to consider this worthy project with your support.  Please donate to Orthodox Africa by clicking here and mark your donation “St. John Maximovitch Secondary School.”

St. Irene Orthodox Mission Centre – Kenya “helps families to stand on their own.”

Listen to the video and learn of the plight of this family.  Learn also of their courage and faith and how they have turned to the Orthodox Church for help. Nine year old John goes to school at St Irene’s and hopes to be a Priest one day. He and his older brother Kariuki, are suffering and have difficulty standing because of their disability. Kariuki is 20 years and cannot stand at all on his own. John has trouble walking and gets discouraged. Having barely enough to eat, the weakness in their bodies is made manifest in their legs.

Recently Father Constantinos went to visit this disadvantaged family who was abandoned by their own father after he lost hope in being able to care for his family. This past year has been one of the worst droughts in the history of Kenya. This rather large family, with six children, has a hopeful Mother who goes out to gather firewood every day for other families to provide food for her own family. She hopes for Kariuki to be able to help also by learning some craft, while he sits hoping to overcome this helplessness and despair.

Several of the children, John, George and Kamau, all attend St. Irene’s School and know their help is in the LORD Jesus Christ. John, although very restless, has an infectious smile and loves to help make other people happy. His restlessness seems to come from his not being able to do what he needs to do. There are two other younger children who are too young for school now. St Irene’s Orthodox Mission School serves 110 children with meals and educational instruction, and learning about the original faith of the Apostles.

Fr. Constantinos and his team, who have the blessing of Orthodox Archbishop Makarios, will be visiting the family by the end of this month to offer food, clothing, blankets, shoes, basins, some good beds, a better wheel chair and medical care. Please walk with Fr. Constantinos on this journey of philanthropy by helping him to help these young children and know they are only one of about 25 other families that suffer similar difficulties. Our hope and prayer with Orthodox Africa is that at least 25 families will help another family from Kenya with a gift of any amount. It requires more than $250 a month to provide help for a family like this but with $7,500 we could help most all of the 25 families who are suffering as well.

Matthew 25:40 says: The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Please GIVE to St. Irene’s Orthodox Mission Center here.

If you cannot donate online and need a tax-deductible receipt from our 501(c)3  you can send a check to:

Orthodox Africa
5874 Orchard Hill Court.
Clifton, VA 20124 USA

Joseph

We at Orthodox Africa wanted to take an inside look of the life of one orphan at St Barnabas Orphanage & School. We can only imagine the life of little Joseph before, who is now 6 years old. This young Kenyan native boy is part of a group of children who were either left on the streets or abandoned in one way or another. Families just couldn’t afford to keep them anymore.

Food is over twice as expensive now since one of the worst droughts hit Africa.  There are days where there isn’t enough food because of the high prices of food from the severe drought. Now Joseph has concerned people to watch over him and keep him safe. To also provide for him and show him there are people who love him and care for him. One of the things children need most in these situations is structure with both compassion and love.

Little Joseph’s day includes waking up at 5:00 am in the morning. He then prepares for the day’s activities with all the other orphans.  He likes the consistency of the morning prayers from 5:45 am to 6:45am and also that they are peaceful. They provide a hope in the future for him, especially now that his needs are starting to be met. They pray together every day that the donations continue to come through and when they do this is very reassuring to Joseph and the others.

After prayers he feels the belongingness of sharing a cup of tea and a piece of corn meal with all the other orphans. Remedial classes starts at 7:00 am till 8:00 am and he then joins the other children for normal classes. Joseph is in class 1 with 16 other children and there are a total of 176 in the entire school. At 11:00 am they all get a breakfast which consists of porridge and cakes. Some days they get eggs when the needed resources are there.

After the breakfast they all continue with normal lessons until 1:00 pm when they take their lunch. They usually have a hot meal prepared in their school kitchen.  Afterwards they begin to write questions so they can be answered after school time, at night. Then at 3:00 pm they join with class 2 for reading story time which ends after over an hour. Games time is from 4:15 to 5:20 pm and after this time; those who don’t yet live in the orphanage are taken to their guardians where they spend the night.

Joseph joins the rest of residents of the orphanage for evening prayers after he takes a shower. At 7:00 pm supper is served and they proceed to study time which last up until their 9:00 pm bedtime. Having this care, attention and security creates a simple yet profound sense of hope for Joseph and the others. It is only because of the faithful generosity of their benefactors, for whom they give thanks in their prayers. and they pray that others will join in giving of their abundance, so that the other children can join them at the St Barnabas Orphanage. Please GIVE to St Barnabas Orphanage & School at: OrthodoxAfrica.org/

“…if You are real, then not much else matters.”

This last line of a poem written by a non-believing young man over 50 years ago is the leaping off point of the book Tears on the Equator: Muzungu.  Written by Gerasimos Kambites, this book chronicles this Greek-Canadian man through his life and eventual time on Bukasa Island, Lake Victoria, Uganda and the establishment of Annunciation Orthodox Church.

As a muzungu (white man) married to a native Bukasa Island woman named Sarah, whom he met while at Brookline Massachusetts’ Hellenic College, Gerasimos began a journey of “discovering the amazing treasure of Orthodoxy, which had always been at [his] very feet” and serving God as a mission priest and medical doctor on the other side of the world.

Each chapter unfolds a story of frustration, joy, anger, laughter, sorrow, gladness, fear, calm, a struggle of faith and the dawn of renewed faith.  A medical clinic was established, a school built, and stone by stone an Orthodox temple grew, all in the midst of the AIDS crisis, civil war and racial intolerance.

Gerasimos’ brother-in-law, Father Christopher Walusimbi, eventually finished building Annunciation Orthodox Church stone by stone; however, not before caring for the many AIDS orphans for 17 years.  The temple exterior is complete with the familiar flame of the Holy Spirit atop the building. The roof leaks.  The interior is incomplete.

Repairs to the boat that Father Christopher uses for his transportation service are nearly done.  Read about that here .   Life vests need to be purchased for the boat for safety.  Most importantly, to continue the mission work at Annunciation Orthodox Church, several young men are thinking about attending Seminary with an eye towards ordination, God willing.

Help him continue this vital mission work by marking your Orthodox Africa donation “Annunciation O.C.”

You can also purchase a copy of Tears on the Equator: Muzungu through Amazon Smile and choose Orthodox Africa as your supported charity.  Not only will 100% of proceeds go to Annunciation Orthodox Church, Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to Orthodox Africa!  A double gift!